Living Wage Series - Malaysia - January 2018 - In Malaysian Ringgit, per Month

Living wages, Wages in context - Malaysia

The Living Wage is based on the concept that work should provide an adequate income to cover the necessary living costs of a family. WageIndicator uses prices from the Cost of Living Survey to calculate Living Wage in more than 60 countries. The Living Wage is an approximate income needed to meet a family’s basic needs including food, housing, transport, health, education, tax deductions and other necessities.

The following table summarises the varying expenditure and income needs for the three commonly occurring family household compositions.

Expenditure and Living Wage calculation (monthly rates in Malaysian Ringgit)

  Typical family Standard family Single-adult
  from-to from-to from-to
Food 800-1200 800-1200 200-300
Housing 600-1000 600-1000 320-565
Transport 150-200 150-200 75-100
Health 100-200 100-200 25-50
Education 110-300 110-300 0
Other costs 88-145 88-145 31-51
Total Expenditure 1848-3045 1848-3045 651-1066
Net Living Wage 1087-1791 1027-1692 651-1066
Gross Living Wage 1220-2010 1150-1900 730-1200

Note: For more details see Living Wage FAQ.


Family Living Wages (monthly rates in Malaysian Ringgit)

There is not a single answer to what is the adequate cost of living. The result is complex, as the cost of living varies by household composition, location, and employment pattern. The following table presents the Living Wage estimates for a set of most common family household compositions and under different assumptions about working hours.

  from-to
Typical family (two parents + 2 children, 1.7 working) 1220-2010
Standard family (two parents + 2 children, 1.8 working) 1150-1900
Two parents and two children, 2 working 1040-1710
Two parents and two children, 1.5 working 1380-2280
Two parents and two children, 1 working 2070-3410
Two parents and three children, 1.7 working 1360-2210
Two parents and four children, 1.7 working 1500-2420
Single-adult without children, 1 working 730-1200

Note: Results in the table are rounded.


Living Wages in Context (monthly rates in Malaysian Ringgit)

The Minimum Wage is a national legally binding obligation on employers which often make no reference to a living standard. Living Wage describes the adequate living standard. The common goal of the many living wage campaigns currently taking place all over the world is to lift Minimum Wages levels to those of the Living Wages. WageIndicator presents Living Wages jointly with Minimum Wages, aiming to raise awareness concerning the remaining differences in levels. Living Wages are presented in context with other wage indicators including prevailing wages of workers over recent years.

  2015 2016 2017 2018
Minimum wage 800 1200 1200 1200
Living Wage - Single Adult 860-1510 730-1220 690-1060 730-1200
Living Wage - Typical Family 1370-2340 1220-2030 1180-1860 1220-2010
Real wage of low-skilled worker .-. .-. .-. .-.
Real wage of medium-skilled worker .-. .-. .-. .-.
Real wage of high-skilled worker .-. .-. .-. .-.

Note: Table shows the lowest monthly Minimum Wage in a country, when available. Reported monthly earnings of workers in low-, medium-, and high-skilled occupations are obtained from the voluntary WageIndicator web survey on work and wages. Results in the table are rounded.


Food basket and food prices in Malaysian Ringgit

The food expenditure is the main component of Living Wage and it is determined by the price of food basket. The food prices are taken from WageIndicator Cost of Living Survey which collects the actual prices of all items necessary to calculate the Living Wage. The composition of the food basket is taken from the national food balance sheets published by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The food basket is scaled to 2,100 calories per person per day that is the nutritional requirement for good health proposed by World Bank (Handbook on poverty and inequality, 2009).

Food itemGrams per dayEnergy (kcal)Price per kilo
Wheat, barley and cereals products 111 304 4-6
Rice 170 583 3-5
Meat (beef, pork, poultry) 126 214 12-21
Oils (soyabean, olive, palm) 35 305 .-.
Sugar (Raw Equivalent) 90 308 2.8-3
Maize and products 33 91 .-.
Milk - Excluding Butter 53 43 5-6.4
Vegetables, Other 106 30 2.8-4
Potatoes and products 23 15 3-3.7
Butter, Ghee 2 16 .-.
Cassava and products 4 5 .-.
Egg (price per 10 eggs) 35 51 3.2-3.5
Fish products 124 87 12-16
Beer 18 8 .-.
Sweet potatoes 2 2 .-.
Bananas 16 10 3.8-4.5
Apples and products 7 3 5.5-6.5
Tomatoes and products 13 3 2.9-4.3
Onions 28 11 2.5-6
Oranges, Mandarines 14 4 .-.
Roots, Other 2 3 .-.
Pineapples and products 15 5 .-.
Cream 0 0 12-18
Tea (including mate) 2 1 .-.


WageIndicator Living Wage background:

The WageIndicator Living Wage is set to provide acceptable living standard to a family of a particular size. WageIndicator presents Living Wages for several household types and working hours which reflect the most frequently found real situations in which people have to make a living: 1. Typical family Living Wage is a baseline estimate that respects the country specific conditions. Typical family is comprised of two adults and the number of children is given by country specific fertility rate (the average number of children a woman is expected to have during her lifespan). One adult is working full-time and the working hours of second adult are approximated by national employment rate. The total income earned by two adults paid living wage is sufficient to reach adequate living standard. 2. Standard family Living Wage is estimated for a family composed of two adults and two children (referred to as family 2+2). Living wage is calculated under different assumptions about working hours. These include that both adults work full-time (family employment rate is 2), or at least one adult works part-time or half-time (family employment rate is 1.8 and 1.5), or one adult does not work at all (i.e. patriarchal model with family employment 1). Alternatives refer to trade-offs between leisure and work and define what living wage represents. In every case the total income earned by two adults paid living wage is sufficient to reach adequate living standard. 3. Extended family Living Wage includes family with three or four children. One adult works full-time and the work intensity of second parent is approximated by national employment rate. 4. Individual Living Wage represents an acceptable standard of living for a single individual working full-time.

Data sources: WageIndicator Cost of Living Survey, World Bank Databank Fertility rate 2010-2014, ILO Estimated participation rate in 2017, FAO Food balance sheet in 2013.

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